Housing implements new health and safety checks

GVL/Brianna Olson
Amy Brinkerhoff

GVL/Brianna Olson Amy Brinkerhoff

Allison Ribick

Grand Valley State University’s housing department will be performing health and safety checks in on-campus housing from Nov. 10 to Nov. 21. Emails were sent out to residents to inform them of the inspections.

These checks have not happened in years prior, which sparks interest as to why the housing department is choosing to change their policies.

Typically, the housing department conducts checks after students leave for major breaks, such as winter and spring break. Personnel conducting the fire safety checks look over the fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and thermostats, and make sure all windows are closed to help prevent the pipes from freezing.

To make it more convenient for students, the housing department has moved up these safety checks to when students are still on campus before long breaks. The inventory checks of the safety equipment will still be included, in addition to making sure there are no prohibited items or violations in the students’ living units.

“We’ve simply moved the timeline of this process up a little bit in order to be able to inspect the unit when the students are around so that we can correct any issues in a timely manner and also have those educational conversations with students,” said Nathan Veeneman, facilities manager of housing and residence life.

At least two resident assistants will be present at the checks. If a unit has a violation, a note will be posted on the back of the student’s door. The students will then have 48 hours to correct the violation.

“If they fail a second time, they would potentially meet with (their) living center director and have a conversation about that behavior or what the prohibited item is,” Veeneman said. “(The health and safety checks) provides us (with) an opportunity to educate students on fire safety and health and safety.”

Brad Mueller, resident assistant of Arthur C. Hills Living Center, has done all of his health and safety checks already.

“They’re fantastic, most everyone is in compliance,” Mueller said. “I would say that 99 percent of people are living in safe environments.”

Mueller has confidence that students in other living centers will pass the checks as well.

“We’re not going through anybody’s personal belongings,” he said. “Unless they’re in violation of something or have prohibited items, they have no reason to be worried.”

Some commonly found prohibited items are candles, rope or holiday lights and multi-headed Medusa lamps. Certain prohibited kitchen appliances are common too, such as toaster ovens.

Another reason the housing department chose to change the date of the inspection is that students will be going home shortly after.

“This gives you the opportunity to retain that item and take it home and you can use it at home, just not on campus,” Veeneman said. “It’s a convenience factor for students.”

Health and safety checks will occur across all living centers on GVSU’s Allendale Campus. This procedure will continue to happen once a semester near a long break.

“The biggest thing about this is to make sure that there’s no hazard that makes the living environment unsafe,” Veeneman said. “This process also gives us, as housing, the opportunity to identify future improvements.”

To read about the policies and procedures of on-campus housing, visit pages 10 through 18 on the residential services guide on the housing department’s website at www.gvsu.edu/housing.